Estonia switched off the analogue terrestrial signal throughout the country on 1 July, three and half years after DTT first launched. According to the national strategy for further development of the DTT platform, a tender for three more multiplexes will be announced very soon, with DVB-T2 mandatory.
Currently, there are three DTT multiplexes in Estonia, offering a total of 29 channels. Five former national analogue channels - ETV, ETV2, Kanal 2, Kanal 11 and Viasat's TV3 - are broadcast with nearly 100 per cent coverage from multiplex 1, operated by the national transmission company Levira (which is also the technical operator for all the multiplexes).
Two other multiplexes, reaching about 96 per cent of Estonia's homes, are operated by Starman, which is providing 24 pay TV channels under the brand ZUUMtv. Since 2008 ZUUMtv's subscribers have also had access to a PVR service. Starman, which is at the same time the country's largest cable TV player, is owned by Xalto CDO II B.V.
Over 25 per cent of homes receive DTT on primary TV sets, with pay DTT homes accounting for about 10 per cent of Estonian households. According to local sources, up to about 20,000 (about 3 per cent of the total TV homes) were left without TV signals by the switch-off.
Estonia was the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to launch DTT in December 2006. Neighbouring Latvia switched over fully one month before Estonia, following an agreement between Latvia's major broadcasters and the transmission company to accelerate the transition to digital for financial reasons.
In Estonia too, analogue switch-off was brought forward (by two years). Still the time scheduled for transition was long enough to avoid leaving a considerable number of homes without TV after analogue switch-off. In Latvia, where the - accelerated - transition to digital took six months, at the moment of ASO about 10 per cent of total Latvia's households lost TV signals.
Estonia was also the first country to use the MPEG-4 compression format in a commercial DTT service. It may be now one of the first to apply DVB-T2. Levira has already tested HD via DTT and may follow another Baltic country in launching services; in Lithuania, TEO LT offers HD as part of its Digital GALA service. On the other hand, mobile TV appears unlikely to launch in the near term, after an unsuccessful two year trial.
Other Central Eastern European countries with analogue switch-off scheduled for the near future include: Slovenia (December 2010), Croatia (January 2011) and Hungary (mid 2011).